1. Don’t assume it’s a no and you can´t travel with dogs
Travel with animals increases every year, and it’s taken establishments time to catch up, meaning lots of places don’t have dog policies in place just yet (or their policies have yet to be thoroughly fleshed out).
I’ve heard plenty of stories of restaurants and hotels whose websites and/or social media have listed themselves as dog friendly when in reality they’re not. It happens.
When in doubt, always ask. Never assume that dogs are or are not allowed. It’s great to look for a “No Pets Allowed” sign or a “Pet Friendly” notice, but whether a place has one or not, it’s always best to double-check.
A quick email or phone call can save you a lot of time, confusion, and frustration.
For example, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that dogs are welcome in most shopping malls in Rio de Janeiro. Who knew?
2. Make copies of pet-related documents
If you’re planning to cross borders or travel internationally, you’ll need your dog’s health records on hand (sort of like us humans and our passports). These are necessary to prove that your dog is healthy and vaccinated.
Officials ask to see them, and depending on who you deal with, they’ll either keep the originals or make a copy.
Additionally, if you need to visit a new vet abroad during your trips, you’ll be able to provide them with your furry friend’s medical history.
For these reasons, I like to keep multiple copies of my dogs’ medical records and vet information on us at all times. This includes both a virtual copy on my phone and printed copies in my day bag.
3. Be Prepared to travel with your Dogs
Emergencies do not only happen close to home; they can also happen while traveling with your dog. Advance planning can make these emergencies less stressful. Before the trip, make a list of veterinary hospitals in the area where you will be staying, along with a map. If your dog shows sudden signs of illness , that list can help save your dog’s life.
Before you leave for your trip, make sure you have not forgotten anything. Use this list as a guide while you are packing. Add your own personal touch as needed.
Lists of rest stops and veterinary hospitals along your trip (if driving)
List of veterinary hospitals near the location where you are staying
Crate or kennel
Water and Bowls Dog Food
One or two toys
Blankets and/or dog bed
Bags to pick up waste
First Aid Kit Grooming supplies
Medications, if applicable
Health Certificate (obtain from your vet)
Choose your flight wisely
Look for non-stop flights with no transfers, and avoid flying during holiday periods when airlines and airports are busier than normal, to minimize the risk of anything going wrong.
If your pet has to fly in cargo, you’ll need to be mindful of the weather at your destination.
If you’re traveling somewhere warm, look for early morning or late evening flights when the temps aren’t so high; in cooler climates, earmark flights in the middle of the day, when temps are warmest.
Also keep in mind that airlines will not let your pet fly if temperatures get too hot or too cold at any destination along your journey. If this happens, you’ll have to scramble to make other plans.
Everything to Know About Flying With A Dog
First, weigh the pros and cons of flying
Right off the bat, think long and hard about whether it’s essential to bring your dog on a plane. “In general, I recommend not flying with a pet unless absolutely necessary,” says Justine Lee, veterinary expert for Pumpkin Pet Insurance . “Ideally, pets should not fly unless an owner is moving permanently or taking a long trip two to four weeks minimum.” Think about it: Flying can be a stressful experience for your dog. It removes them from comfortable and familiar surroundings, then forces them into a situation with loud noises, bright lights, thousands of people, changes in air pressure and cabin temperature, and a limited ability to use the bathroom.
Unless you have a really good reason for bringing your pet with you during your travels, it may be best to leave them home. Consider hiring a pet-sitter, asking a friend or family member to watch your dog, or boarding them at a licensed facility. You might feel bummed out for a few days, but it’s likely better for your pet in the long run.
Cargo or carry-on?
Where your dog is allowed to spend the flight will depend on their size but it may be a determining factor in whether or not you bring them.
Though rules vary from airline to airline, your dog can typically only fly in the cabin a.k.a. as a carry-on if they are small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you.
Any larger than that, and your pup will have to travel in the cargo hold, with the luggage and freight. Most airlines describe this as “shipping” your pet. (Yikes.)
While airlines say they try their best to make dogs comfortable in the cargo hold, it’s an unpleasant experience for your pet in addition to being separated from you, items might shift around or fall during the flight, which can be loud and scary.
And sure, plenty of animals fly in cargo every year, without incident, but there are a lot of unknown variables that you have no control over once you hand your pet off to airline personnel. Consider it this way: Baggage handlers are just trying to get their jobs done and get everything loaded onto the plane, period.
They’re not guaranteed to pay special attention or care to your dog in their kennel. Lots of travelers have shared horror stories about their pets being injured, becoming very sick, or even dying after flying in the cargo hold. So, again, seriously consider if the potential risks are worth it.
How much does it cost?
You’ll typically pay around $125 each way for your pet to fly in the cabin with you, though it varies by airline. The cost of shipping your pet in the cargo hold depends on the combined weight of your dog and their crate, as well as how far they’ll be flying most airlines offer online calculators for getting an estimate.
Review all of the rules
As you might imagine, airlines have tons of rules and guidelines for flying with your pets. It’s important that you read them thoroughly so your pet isn’t turned away during boarding.
Check with your preferred airline to see which dog breeds they allow on-board. Breeds with snubbed noses (like pugs) are typically banned from the cargo hold because their facial structure can make it hard for them to breathe normally. Bully breeds, like pit bulls, may also be completely banned from flying.